In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section LGBTQ+ Romantic Relationships

  • Introduction
  • Books
  • Empirical Reviews
  • General Demographics

Psychology LGBTQ+ Romantic Relationships
Samantha Tornello, Bernadette Blanchfield, Jason Sumontha
  • LAST REVIEWED: 13 April 2018
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 April 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0179


Research on romantic relationships among lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, and queer (LGBTQ+) self-identified individuals is a relatively new area. Note that for the purposes of this entry, the term trans* is used in research to refer to transgender or gender-nonconforming individuals (which group is specified when relevant). Queer is a modern umbrella term used to represent a range of sexual orientations and gender identities. Research with the queer-identified community is rare but beginning to grow. First, this article reviews the common books and journals that address the topic of LGBTQ+ relationships. Second, it reviews the law and policy, both in the United States and internationally, that surround same-sex relationship recognition and current societal attitudes. Third, it reviews the research on the creation, function, and dynamics of LGBTQ+ romantic relationships. Finally, it discusses the role of these relationships in the context of parenting and ends with conflict and relationship dissolution. Since the early 21st century there has been a drastic shift in support of legal recognition of same-sex couples. The research on LGBTQ+ romantic relationships has found consistent similarities to different-sex or heterosexual couples, as well as some unique strengths and challenges. Much of the research has focused on lesbian women and gay men, with very little attention on bisexual, trans*, and queer people. The research on trans* individuals, in particular, often consists of extremely small samples and lacks rigorous data collection and statistical analyses. This article attempts to address the relationships of all LGBTQ+ people and specifies the population examined for each article in the commentary. In sum, this entry reviews the current research on and knowledge of romantic relationships among LGBTQ+ individuals.


Many books that discuss LGBTQ+ romantic relationships are of the self-help genre, and very few are empirical reviews. Garnets and Kimmel 2003 and Patterson and D’Augelli 2012 explore the topic of the psychology of sexual orientation and gender identity, and both have specific chapters dedicated to the romantic relationships of LGBTQ+ individuals. The book Hunter 2011 reviews the empirical research on gay and lesbian romantic relationships. Badgett 2010 and Carrington 1999, by contrast, contain collections of interviews with same-sex couples. Very few books focus directly on the romantic relationships of bisexual or trans* individuals. Fugere, et al. 2014 explores attraction and romantic relationships of all couples, intertwining LGB people’s experiences throughout.

  • Badgett, M. V. Lee. 2010. When gay people get married: What happens when societies legalize same-sex marriage. New York: NYU.

    This book describes the experiences of Dutch same-sex couples living in the Netherlands and, specifically, their reasons to marry (or not), the impact of marriage on them and their community, and the contemporary status of the same-sex marriage debate.

  • Carrington, Christopher. 1999. No place like home: Relationships and family life among lesbians and gay men. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

    DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226094847.001.0001

    This book is a collection of case studies and in-depth interviews of gay and lesbian couples in the California Bay Area. These interviews describe the daily experiences of couples, ranging from how they share daily chores to how they spend their free time.

  • Erickson-Schroth, Laura, ed. 2014. Trans bodies, trans selves: A resource for the transgender community. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    This book is an easily accessible and readable guide for trans* and gender-nonconforming people, written by transgender and gender-nonconforming authors. This book includes specific chapters on intimate relationships and sexuality.

  • Fugere, Madeline, Jennifer Leszczynski, and Alita Cousins. 2014. The social psychology of attraction and romantic relationships. New York: Palgrave Macmillian.

    This book explores the experiences of attraction and romantic relationships of all individuals. The authors weave research on LGB couples into the discussion of heterosexual couples.

  • Garnets, Linda, and Douglas Kimmel, eds. 2003. Psychological perspectives of lesbian, gay, and bisexual experiences. 2d ed. New York: Columbia Univ. Press.

    This book is a general review of psychological issues in the lives of LGB individuals. A section of the book specifically addresses relationships among LGB individuals, along with discussions of related topics, throughout the book.

  • Hunter, Ski. 2011. Lesbian and gay couples: Lives, issues, and practice. Chicago: Lyceum.

    This book reviews the experiences of lesbian and gay adults in relationships and the impact of heterosexism and the marriage debate on these couples.

  • Patterson, Charlotte J., and Anthony R. D’Augelli, eds. 2012. Handbook of psychology and sexual orientation. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

    This book is a culmination of the current psychological research on sexual orientation. Chapters are dedicated to research on same-sex romantic relationships and related topics. See also the chapter Fingerhut and Peplau 2012, cited under Empirical Reviews.

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